Possible Female Fights for Second Half of 2019
By Felipe Leon
One can say the new wave of female boxing in the United States began in the late summer of 2016 when Heather Hardy’s win over Shelly Vincent was broadcast on NBC Sports. Since then we have seen a resurgence of female boxing on American airwaves as well as the biggest promoters in the game, Top Rank and Golden Boy Promotions, jumping into female boxing with both feet.
The first half of the year has been spectacular with significant, and more importantly, entertaining fights on all major boxing platforms in the United States. We’ve seen some of the biggest names in the sport take on the biggest names with some of them making history.
To keep this momentum going, here are suggestions in no particular order:
Maiva Hamadouche (20-1, 16KO) vs. Mikaela Mayer (11-0, 4KO) super featherweight – Under the tutelage of Top Rank we’ve seen Mayer develop into a pretty impressive professional prizefighter. In her last fight she easily dominated a well-rounded veteran in Lizbeth Crespo despite struggling a bit to get her footing early in the fight.
She is ready for a world title now.
With her advantages in skill, height and reach at 130 pounds we shouldn’t expect to face just any of the current titleholders of the division but to go after the best and that is France’s Hamadouche. We can’t expect Top Rank to send their crown jewel across the pond so hopefully they can offer enough of a purse to entice Hamadouche to leave Europe and defend her IBF strap in the United States.
Yesica Bopp (36-1, 16KO) vs. Seniesa Estrada (17-0, 7KO) light flyweight – Estrada, the WBC silver champion at 108 pounds, has mentioned getting a shot at the current WBC full-fledged champ Yesenia Gomez as soon as September but the champion she should be really be facing is Bopp. The Argentinean is one of the most recognizable current female fighters in the world. Her skill matches up with Estrada’s with an amateur pedigree as extensive as Estrada’s. Perhaps what she loses in age since at 35 she is eight years older than Estrada, she certainly makes up in experience.
Bopp has mentioned in recent interviews she sees the end of her illustrious career in the near future but before she would like to achieve her life-long dream to fight in the United States. She has mentioned Marlen Esparza as a possible foe on American soil but at this point Estrada is the more viable opponent.
Katie Taylor (14-0, 6KO) vs. Delfine Persoon (43-2, 18KO) lightweight – On one hand we’ve seen this fight already, one of the most anticipated female fights of the year so far, but the result was bittersweet since in the eyes of many Taylor did not win.
At best it was a draw.
Persoon, 34, had long been criticized for not wanting to fight outside of her home country.
Perhaps she was right.
It took a lot for Persoon, the then WBC champ, to leave Belgium: a healthy purse, a semi-main event slot on one of the biggest platforms in the sport and the opportunity to become the undisputed and unified champion in a single swoop.
Unfortunately for her and perhaps female boxing, the deserving winner did not get her just rewards.
Taylor has stated publicly she wants the rematch; by winning much more effectively in the second go-around she wants to prove what happened that night in June was not a case of the house fighter getting a favorable decision.
Can Eddie Hearn, Taylor’s promoter, convince Persoon to leave Belgium once again?
Mariana Juarez (53-9-4, 18KO) vs. Jackie Nava (35-4-4, 16KO) Catchweight of 120 lbs. – We’ve been teased with this fight since last year when both of these legendary women fought on the same card in Mexico City. It was billed as a card to help promote their pending fight for the fall of ’18 with the promotion going as far as announcing the fight in the post-fight press conference.
The fight did not materialize.
Both sides blamed each other citing money issues. Since that shared card Juarez has been the most impressive of the two going 3-0 while defending her WBC bantamweight title, while Nava, 39, has shown her age despite capturing the interim WBA 118-pound title since then. But in her last fight she squeaked away with a draw in a fight many saw her lose against Marcela Acuña of Argentina.
Jelena Mrdjenovich (39-10-2, 19KO) vs. Amanda Serrano (36-1-1, 27KO) featherweight – Although Serrano signed a three-fight deal with DAZN with the understanding of the contract to be against Katie Taylor; the Irish fighter has other business to attend before a fight with Serrano.
Why not rehash this match up?
This fight was talked about back in 2017 but it could not be made. Mrdjenovich, 37, has no real reason to leave her native Canada except to put one last big feather in her cap before she calls it a career.
As far as Serrano, despite wining a number of titles in a number of weight classes, impressive in itself, none of the opponents have been of an elite level. Perhaps Serrano needs a win over an established champion like Mrdjenovich to cement her legacy.
The question here is if Eddie Hearn is willing to spend that last bullet of their contract to give the sport a great fight or wait to make it against Taylor.
Raquel Miller (9-0, 4KO) vs. Maricela Cornejo (13-3, 5KO) super welterweight – This bout might not be at the world-class level at this point as the others mentioned but the lead up to it would just be too good. Both of these women have no problem speaking their mind and have done so at an impromptu face-off in Las Vegas some years ago.
Both of these women are at different places in their career with Miller ascending and Cornejo trying to maintain her spot near the top after coming up short in her bid for the vacant WBC super middleweight title. A win for Miller over a world title challenger gets her closer to a shot herself while a win for Cornejo gets her back in the mix.
Special Note: Why not include Cecilia Braekhus against Claressa Shields or Braekhus vs. Layla McCarter? It is obvious either one of those fights would supersede any of the aforementioned five in importance for the sport but are we any closer to seeing them than we were a year ago?
The Braekhus vs Shields might be a bit easier to be made if they can come to an agreement to the weight since both have names big enough to generate lucrative purses. Meanwhile, Braekhus against McCarter might not be there yet financially to make it a reality.